“The Purge: Election Year” is the third installment in the James DeMonaco-directed horror series. This time around, former police sergeant Leo Barnes (Frank Grillo) has become head of security for Senator Charlene Roan (Elizabeth Mitchell), the front runner in the next Presidential election who vowed to eliminate the Purge. Her hate for the annual kill-fest, due to her past history, makes her the target of a new scheme that puts her life at risk.
IndieWire’s Eric Kohn gave the horror film a C+. “James DeMonaco’s allegorical franchise takes a sharp turn into racial politics, but falls short of doing them justice,” he wrote in his review. He adds that, “in theory, ‘Election Year’ offers a form of catharsis from contemporary anxieties by turning them into entertainment. Instead, this latest entry in a ridiculous franchise has become a victim of its own sick joke.”
Owen Gleiberman of Variety wrote, “The third ‘Purge’ film is the most excitingly sustained, because the clockwork violence is now merged with dark political satire.” He continues, adding that, “it’s a scurrilously effective pop rabble-rouser — a movie that’s been built to get you riled, and does. It’s a squalid B-movie political horror film that plays to our most reptile-brained basic instincts, and also to our cartoon-noble ideals, and by the end you can’t separate the two; that’s the way canny shameless pop works.”
“A speculative but frightening political scenario,” is The Hollywood Reporter’s Justin Lowe’s bottom line. “DeMonaco has further upped his game with the third installment by working closely with franchise cinematographer Jacques Jouffret to design rewardingly more complex action sequences and well-focused set pieces that are both efficiently executed and visually engaging.”
Dave White of The Wrap is enthusiastic about the film: “Grillo is exactly the right man for this role, the thoughtful tough guy who can pull bullets out of his own body and who always looks like he needs a shower, but who can’t stop for such indulgences until he knows everyone else is safe. And the ensemble around him forms a tight, empathic unit. We want the Purge to keep going; we also want this crew to smack it down hard.”
Entertainment Weekly critic Chris Nashawaty gave the thriller a B, writing in his review: “As political satire, it’s cheap, obvious, and lazy. But as a rousingly tense, Carpenter-esque thriller, ‘Election Year’ is surprisingly effective. The only shame is that film’s finale paints itself into a narrative corner that will make it tricky to justify another sequel. Too bad, because three films in, the Purge saga has finally hit its sick, sadistic stride.”
On the negative side of the reviews, giving it one star out of four, is Roger Ebert’s Simon Abrams, who is not a fan. “NRA members will love lousy pseudo-political horror-thriller ‘The Purge: Election Year.’ In fact, the tagline for ‘Election Year’ might as well be ‘the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.'” He adds that, “there’s nothing specific, thoughtful or emotionally involving about ‘Election Night’ beyond a basic need to push buttons, and get a rise out of viewers. The good guys are actually bad, and the bad guys are too indistinct to be hateful. Vote with your wallets, and go see something else.”
“The Purge: Election Year” is now in theaters.